2010 Strikeouts by difficulty update

September 30th, 2010 by pbr

Here’s what we get when we assign weights to pitchers strikeout totals based on the frequency their victims strike out in general.  For example, Mark Reynolds strikes out about once every 2.9 plate appearances, and the league average is 5.4, so a strikeout of Mark Reynolds is only worth about 0.54 in “Strike equivalent difficulty” (Ked – I’d subscript the “ed” in that label, but then I’d have to find out how).  Juan Pierre, on the other hand, strikes out very rarely – once per 15.6 plate appearances, so striking him out is worth 2.9 Ked.

Felix Hernandez has a commanding lead in strikeouts by difficulty – his 232 actual strikeouts have the equivalent difficulty of striking out 261 batters with average strikeout rates.  131 (or 56.4%) of his Ks have been recorded against batters who strike out less often than the league average.  He’s the only pitcher to throw 10 strikeouts against batters whose PA per K rate is at least double the league average, and the closest competitor has only 7.  Among pitchers with 200 strikeouts this year, he’s the only pitcher who has thrown more than half of his strikeouts against batters who are better than average at not striking out.

Here are the top 30 in 2010 for Strikeout equivalent difficulty (Ked):

Pitcher Actual Ks Ked Ked – K Ks vs above average batters Ks vs batters above 1.5 * average Ks vs batters above 2 * average
Felix Hernandez 232 261.2 29.2 131 36 10
Jered Weaver 229 240.7 11.7 105 26 7
Justin Verlander 219 226.9 7.9 106 19 4
Roy Halladay 219 223.1 4.1 86 24 6
Tim Lincecum 231 222.8 -8.2 87 18 3
Jon Lester 220 222.7 2.7 102 17 2
Francisco Liriano 195 211.1 16.2 102 19 4
Clayton Kershaw 212 207.4 -4.6 76 20 6
Adam Wainwright 213 206.4 -6.6 82 17 4
Cole Hamels 209 205.6 -3.4 92 18 3
Ryan Dempster 200 203.9 3.9 77 25 5
Max Scherzer 184 202.6 18.6 96 30 4
Colby Lewis 192 200.8 8.8 93 17 6
C.C. Sabathia 197 197.1 0.1 86 20 5
Ubaldo Jimenez 204 191.7 -12.3 76 9 1
Yovani Gallardo 200 190 -10.0 86 9 0
James Shields 186 189 3 81 17 1
David Price 187 188.9 1.9 79 13 2
Brandon Morrow 178 186.9 8.9 91 13 3
Jonathan Sanchez 200 185.7 -14.3 66 15 2
Ricky Romero 169 184.1 15.1 91 18 4
Zack Greinke 172 183.4 11.4 84 14 4
C.J. Wilson 166 181.2 15.2 84 24 6
Ervin Santana 168 176.4 8.4 82 20 4
Mat Latos 185 172.3 -12.7 68 9 3
Shaun Marcum 161 169.6 8.6 74 16 4
Josh Johnson 186 169.3 -16.7 57 11 2
Chris Carpenter 175 167.4 -7.6 61 14 5
Wandy Rodriguez 178 167.3 -10.7 65 11 2
Gio Gonzalez 163 166.4 3.4 71 13 2

The three columns on the right indicate strikeouts against batters who are above the major league average in plate appearances per strikeout (about 5.4); strikeouts against batters who are better than 1.5 times league average (about 8.1); and strikeouts against batters who are better than double the league average strikeout rate (about 10.8).

Hernandez’s 10 most difficult strikeouts have been against Alberto Callaspo, David Eckstein (twice), AJ Pierzinski, Joe Mauer (three times), Kurt Suzuki and Jason Kendal (twice). He’s also struck out Miguel Tejada once, Orlando Cabrera once, and Vlad Guerrero 5 times, and all those guys strike out less often than once per 10 plate appearances.

One Response to “2010 Strikeouts by difficulty update”

  1. Guesswho says:

    Great statistic, only sad thing is that Josh Johnson looks worse with this

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